When it comes to princesses, Ariel always seems to top the list. And lucky for your mini mermaid fan, Ariel and her underwater ensemble are making their Seattle stage debut in a swimmingly spectacular production at The 5th Avenue Theatre this holiday season. Read on for the underwater deets.

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photo: The 5th Avenue Theatre Facebook page

A Familiar Tail… and Then Some
Ariel’s story is a familiar one to fans of the Disney movie. Ariel, an adventurous mermaid, falls for a human, Prince Eric, after she daringly rescues him at sea. For a shot at winning his affection, she trades her voice to Ursula the Sea Witch in exchange for legs. And from there, the star-crossed lovers gradually work their way toward each other, overcoming all the obstacles in their way, until, at last, they say “I do” before the curtain falls. But, from the moment Ariel sets fin on stage in this production, mini devotees will notice a departure from the party line. This show’s got a whole bunch of catchy new tunes splashed in around old faves. And a backstory that explains why Ursula is so focused on unseating King Triton adds a little more intrigue to the original story. Put it all together and you have a fabulous show that can be enjoyed by dedicated fans and newbies alike.

ariel-sitting-with-treasure-mark-kitaokaphoto: Mark Kitaoka 

Fin-slapping Funnies
When it comes to kid appeal, this holiday production has got tons. While moms and dads will chuckle at the one-liner fish puns and be genuinely impressed by the special effects that make Ariel’s underwater world possible on a dry stage, the Littles will love the cartoon-esque aspects that carry over seamlessly from screen to stage. Sebastian is just as funny as ever with his hapless, well-intentioned mothering that never goes quite as planned. And the bright, colorful costumes and staging mirror what mini movie fans will expect. But it’s the silly that really gets kidlets interested in this show. The over-the-top bubble skirts worn by the ladies in waiting are the prefect example. It’s hard not to smile when they flounce across the stage like life-size cream puffs. And the hand’s down best belly laugh scene in the show is the Chef singing “Le Poisson,” and chasing after Sebastian in full slapstick glory. Zut alors! You won’t want to miss this one.

flounder-and-sisters-tracy-martin-5th-avephoto: Tracy Martin 

Fish-tastic Special Effects
It’s clear Disney’s trademark magic is alive and well in this musical. From the moment Prince Eric plunges into the water and Ariel swims up from below to save him, you know the special effects are gonna be off the hook. And that’s all thanks to the flying sequences choreographed by Paul Rubin, and to the actors who can pull off singing while “swimming” in the 3-dimensional stage space. Watching the under sea sequences is truly part of what makes this production such a special one. Ursula’s underwater cave is another. You and your mini me can expect complete submersion, as lighting effects expand the stage out into the theater, making her cave feel like it’s deep under the ocean and massive in size. Add in Flotsam and Jetsam wheeling around Ursula’s commanding figure, and it’s like just like it is in the movies. If you’re wondering how your sidekick will handle this formidable character live on stage, it’s good to note that she’s not much different than she is in the film. Chances are if they don’t think she’s too scary in the movie, they should be good to go seeing her on stage too.

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photo: Tracy Martin 

Go Under the Sea
Bring your little star to the 5th Avenue Theatre for a special tour and meet & greet with Ariel on Dec. 27, starting at noon. It’s a chance for your awestruck sidekick to get on stage and check out King Triton’s underwater world from a whole new perspective, before shaking hands with the main mermaid herself, Ariel. There will be plenty of time for a photo op, and snacks and kid-friendly activities are also on the day’s menu. Carve out about 30 minutes for the whole experience. Entrance to the event is $150 for up to six people, and is considered a charitable donation to the theater (hello, tax deduction!). Grab your spot online while you still can!

Aquatic Sights to Sea Before or After the Show
Make a day of your time at the theater by planning some sea-themed activities downtown before (or after) the show. It’s a total perk of living near the Sound! Check out what’s new with Ariel’s fishy friends at the Seattle Aquarium, and get your photo taken with Santa as he dives in the Window on Washington Water tank weekends at noon and 3 p.m., from now until Christmas Eve. Your cuties will love listening to the dry-side interpreter walk them through Santa’s grand underwater adventure, pre photo-op. Then at 1 p.m., stay to listen to some seasonal tunes by local kindie faves (think Recess Monkey and The Not-It’s) and other family-friendly performers. When you’re done, check out the Sound views and wonder what’s under the sea as you stroll through the Olympic Sculpture Park or take a spin on the Great Wheel. And don’t forget to grab some fish and chips at Quincy’s in the Armory or Ivar’s down on the boardwalk when the munchies hit.

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photo: Seattle Aquarium Facebook page

Good to Know
1. Give you little theatergoer a boost with a cushion to make sure he or she doesn’t miss a minute of this musical. You can grab them at Door 1, right inside the theater, at the coat check or by the doors on the second floor.

2. Like all of The 5th Avenue Theatre’s productions, this one is for patrons 4 and older. That means even babes-in-arms need to stay home.

3. The show’s run time is 2 hours and 20 minutes, with a 20-minute intermission so your wiggle worms can get up and move.
 
4. The 5th Avenue Theatre is pairing up with Treehouse  to collect new shoes for local foster children during The Little Mermaid’s run. Bring a pair to the Box Office (1308 5th Ave.) or drop them in the lobby when you see the show to get a 25% discount on The 5th’s upcoming production of The Secret Garden.

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photo: Mark Kitaoka

The 5th Avenue Theatre
1326 5th Ave.
Seattle, Wa 98101
206-625-1900 (Box Office)
Online: 5thavenue.org/show/Disneys-The-Little-Mermaid 

Ages: 4 & up
Dates: Through Dec. 31, 2016; no shows Dec. 5, 12, 19 & 25
Times: Tues. & Wed. 7:30 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri. 8 p.m.; Sat. 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sun. 1:30 p.m. & 7 p.m. Be sure to check the online calendar as a few show times are different around the holidays.
Cost: $36-$185

Do you plan on seeing this latest production at The 5th Avenue? Have you seen it already? Tell us about your favorite part in the Comments below!

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— Allison Sutcliffe

Note: feature photo courtesy of Mark Kitaoka.